Global Services Coalition Calls For Redoubled Push Toward A High Standard E-Commerce Framework
The Global Services Coalition (GSC) 2019 Davos statement commends Ministers of the 70 countries that signed the Joint Statement on E-Commerce at the Ministerial meetings in Buenos Aires in December 2017 and the intensive and productive exploratory discussions that have taken place in Geneva pursuant to that Joint Statement. The GSC believes that those discussions and the numerous proposals that WTO members have contributed are important progress and provide a positive foundation for renewed momentum to work toward an ambitious, high standard WTO e-commerce framework.
Data-transfer is today’s all-purpose means of business communication, spurring economic growth and innovation in all industries. GSC associations see with concern the appearance of certain forced data localization policies and practices, that may threaten to disrupt the continued growth and success of trade and commerce worldwide.
Two new position papers on E-Commerce from the European Services Forum
The European Union is the world’s most data-dependent actor in the global trading system, illustrating the importance of enabling digital trade for the growth of the European economy. The transfer of data from the EU to third country markets and from third countries into the EU is crucial to run the complex business operations necessary for value chains that cross many jurisdictions and that are regional and global.
ESF calls for the adoption of a negotiating mandate in early 2019 to launch plurilateral negotiations – under the auspices of the WTO that would be accessible for all WTO members – that would look at setting up disciplines in various areas related to international e-commerce. ESF calls for the
discussions to move smoothly and rapidly with a view to reaching an agreement if possible by the Twelfth WTO Ministerial (MC12) in June 2020 in Astana (Kazakhstan).
ESF therefore encourages participating countries to envisage discussion aimed at a better nondiscriminatory market access in many sectors relevant to improvement of e-commerce such as telecom services, IT and computer related services, distribution, advertising services, e-payment services, postal and express delivery services, transportation services and those ancillary to them, logistics and handling services, and others. Interested countries could simply unilaterally update their respective GATS schedules, without the need for a full-fledged market access negotiation.
The European Services Forum welcomed the fact that, at the end of the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) last December in Buenos Aires, Trade Ministers from 71 countries adopted a Joint Statement on E-Commerce. This group, encompassing participants from developed, developing and leastdeveloped countries, unveiled plans to move forward with discussions in this area. They agreed to initiate exploratory work towards future WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce, with participation open to all WTO members. ESF understands that Thailand recently decided to join the initiative as the 72nd country. Together, the group accounts for around 77 per cent of global trade, which is a significant proportion. ESF encourages all the participating countries to remain engaged and to contribute to the negotiations in a constructive spirit, and invites
other countries to consider joining the initiative.
When asked about the major trade barriers that they encounter in trying to open or expand business abroad or to export in third countries, European service businesses will systematically raise the issue of lack of transparency and due diligence in the regulatory environment. With one of the major objectives of the negotiations for disciplines in services domestic regulation being to provide more transparency of existing rules for services providers, giving information on licensing and authorization procedures, etc., the European Services Forum fully supports this initiative.